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rock climbing

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Meldicott Dome. “Peace” is visible as the second streak of black granite-to the right of its famous neighbor Bachar-Yerian

Before New Years- frozen in a small cabin in Mexico- I wrote a list of goals for the next year. I split it up into sections – “climbing” , “professional” and “personal.” Of course, because my priorities can be somewhat perplexing, the “climbing” section came first. On the very top of the list I wrote “Touch To Bolt, ” vowing that I would at least try my dream route. In April, I surprised myself by not only trying it but, after 16 days of work, joyously clipping its anchors. Immediately below to bolt, I wrote my second goal- “Peace.”

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Up high on Kings of Rap at Smith Rock State Park. Photo by Micah Humphrey

On my 27th birthday, I woke up buried in my sleeping bag, nestled in my car in the middle of Central Oregon. I poked my head out to see frost building up on every window of my car, yet the sky was clear and the sun was strong. This wasn’t an unfamiliar scene- I had spent many nights this winter and spring in the exact same spot, and I welcomed the cold weather. Cold weather meant more days of climbing. In fact, the forecast for the week looked so good that I organized my work around it at the last minute,  driving down from Seattle by myself to capitalize on what would likely be the last week of crisp conditions that would grace this area for months.

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“Flow- An optimal mental state of functioning in which our skill matches the challenge, action and awareness merge, and we become so engaged in the activity that we have a loss of self-consciousness and time gets distorted. Full stop”

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One year ago today I was embarking on the beginning  of what turned out to be one of the best adventures of my life. I traveled from January through mid June finding myself in climbing destinations in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Canada. I then moved to Tuolumne (in Yosemite National Park) and had an incredible summer, working all over Yosemite  and spending my days off climbing immaculate granite and exploring the wild places of both the Western and Eastern Sierra. In a quite spur of the moment decision, I ended up climbing in Spain for much of December.

Life was good.

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Photos of the Chief near Squamish, British Columbia Canada taken in May 2016.

The granite dome dubbed as “The Chief” hides half of its 700m height on a cloudy day in Squamish, BC, Canada.

“Impossible to go on, impossible to descend impossible to stay where he is. […] With cheek and ear pressed against the canyonland bedrock he feels, hears, shares the beating of some massive heart, a heavy murmur buried under mountains old as Mesozoic time. His own heart. A heavy thick remote and subterranean thumping sound. The fear”

-Edward Abbey

The Monkey Wrench Gang

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Over the past year I have been pushing aside and ignoring the subtle yet ever-present and stubborn goal of mine to improve at traditional climbing. My excuses were plentiful; I did not have the time to go out to trad crags to improve, I didn’t have the money to gather up a proper rack, what little trad I have done made me good enough (5.8 leader…) for some basic alpine objectives, and crack climbing hurts. In reality, becoming a competent trad leader is a central and essential skill I knew I would have to learn if I were ever to achieve my larger, long-term and more complex goal of becoming a strong and well-versed rock climbing goddess. (Okay, maybe not a goddess.. but just a half decent all-around climber). I want to be able to ascend a feature using a variety of techniques and skills that could only have been garnered by years of experience on different types of rocks and in different styles. My resumé with sport climbing wasn’t so bad, but was seriously lacking with traditional climbing. The fact of the matter is, trad climbing is the TICKET to the alpine, the ticket to some bigger mountains and objectives, and no truly well-rounded rock climber should lack in the ability to utilize a good hand-jam in a splitter crack. I was scared, though. I was scared to fall on gear, scared to take the leap and hesitant to push my trad grade the way I had my sport grade. As the final month of my trip was approaching, though, I knew I would not be able to call it a success if I didn’t spend a concentrated amount of time exploring and growing in this discipline. So, I got my passport and headed to Canada.

I apologize to any non-climbers who have found this blog, because this is a particularly jargon heavy post.

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“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”

– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being 

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Since my last blog post my ventures have taken me to a few of St. George’s finest crag, a brief stint in Yosemite, and now to Smith Rock- arguably the birthplace of American sport climbing. Everywhere I go, though, I am trying to maintain my motivation to try as hard as I can, whether that means pushing a new grade, a new type of climbing or just breaking out of my comfort zone to meet new people and explore incredible places. (really , though, I just want to be like all of the crushers I’ve met and “whip off the proj.”)  While on the pursuit of this goal, I have neglected my blog a wee bit..

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climbing in lime kiln canyon on Friday March 4, 2016 with Mark Sachs.

The Grail, Lime Kiln Canyon

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

One month down, about two months to go. Two more months of roaming, climbing, exploring and seeking out new adventures of all kinds. While I’m trying to keep a broad “mood” to my trip and not get sucked into any one particular discipline of climbing, I had a hard time resisting the temptation to go spend a week scaling some limestone at Lime Kiln Canyon near Mesquite, NV. Just looking at the guidebook made me giddy- 35-40 meter limestone routes? Slightly overhung with crimps and sloping pockets? Could this be a little Spanish-like mecca of rock nestled in some BLM land along the border between eastern Nevada and northwestern Arizona? I was keen to find out.

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Following my partner on the second pitch “Drifting” (11c) on the Jet Stream Wall in Red Rocks. Photo by Harrison Teuber

“The fire had burned to coals and he lay looking up at the stars in their places and the hot belt of matter that ran the chord of the dark vault overhead and he put his hands on the ground at either side of him and pressed them against the earth and in that coldly burning canopy of black he slowly turned dead center to the world, all of it taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands.”

Cormac McCarthy- All the pretty horses

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Over the past three weeks I’ve ran along ridges in the desert, boulder-hopped through pristine canyons and slept under the stars. I’ve been 500 ft up on a clean sandstone face whimpering above some gear and took whippers off of pre-hung draws on limestone. I’ve seen big-horn sheep, had a kestrel fly by me on a hanging belay and have walked through what seemed like endless desert valleys flooded with the yellow hue of wildflowers. Above all, I’ve met excellent, genuine people with whom I’ve adventured, shared dinner and sung around a campfire.

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Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear- the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break. Turning Plato and Hegel on their heads I sometimes choose to hink, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

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Photos in Bishop. Sads.

A typical scene here in the Owen’s Valley; desert scrub, cottonwoods and willows along the Owen’s River and the snow-capped White Mountains only 7 miles away but more than 8,000 feet higher in Elevation.

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

A little less than a year ago, I went on a run.

…I turned around and had to stop to take in the incredible vista that was laid out before me. Instead of the Sierras I saw the sun setting over the white mountains, bathing the boulders littered all over the landscape in a soft golden hue. With my heart pounding and my adrenaline racing I thought to myself this very, very cheesy thought – ” this is it”. I need to be in places like this. And I need to protect places like this. I want to understand places like this; I want to understand the science of the ecosystems that are its foundation, but I also want to be able to interact in them, through running, climbing and hiking so I can tap into the mysterious aspects of these that make me feel good, essentially. And hey- guess what- that’s what I’m doing! I’m studying conservation biology, I am climbing, I am running and I am tapping into the mental game… etc. I ran down the hill grinning from ear to ear.

I wrote that in my blog post Owen’s River Gorge that I published on April 2, 2014.

I am happy to say that less than a year later what I imagined actually came true-pretty literally. In the beginning of November I moved full-time to Bishop, CA after spending the summer traveling and climbing around the Sierra Nevada and in Eastern Europe. What brought me to Bishop was not the spectacular climbing or easy access to a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities (you can basically do everything here except go surfing), but an Americorps position focused on protecting the public lands here in the Eastern Sierra and making stewards out of users. I have been performing a variety of tasks focusing on watershed restoration but also touching on volunteer engagement and outreach. However, I won’t lie; living in Bishop was definitely a big factor in my decision to accept the position. The perks of living on the East Side have indeed been pretty sweet…

P.S.- warning, this is a loooong post. Read More

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. – John Muir

In Tuolumne Meadows, there are no shortage of routes available to the motivated climber. Three of these routes make up what is known as the “Triple Crown”- Tenaya Peak, Cathedral Peak, and Matthes Crest. All three routes get you above 10,000 ft. for a moderate grade, and all are unique in their own way. The strongest and quickest climbers try to link them up in a day, which is an ambitious task. Emmanuel and I wanted to climb all of them, but honestly thought we would have to pick one or two of them. Well, turns out we didn’t.

Our plan was to head into Tuolumne from Lone Pine, sleep outside of the park and then climb Tenaya on Thursday morning. After Tenaya we planned to try to get a permit to backpack into Echo Lakes on Friday. As Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest are about 2 miles from another (and both close to Echo Lake), many link the two routes in two days by backpacking to Echo Peaks. This lets you avoid having to hike back and forth and also to sneak in some backpacking in the middle of climbing two classics.

So, in three days we climbed the three most prolific “easy” routes in Tuolume meadows, Here, then, is what happened along the way…

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